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From 30 August to 8 September 2019 the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival will return to Johannesburg to explore and celebrate technology and creativity by Africans for Africa. 

This year, the 2019 Fak’ugesi Festival has also partnered with the City of Johannesburg’s Smart Cities Office to bring exciting African-centric programming to the 2019 festival line up. The partnership highlights the importance of identifying local solutions for local problems, while also supporting the work of five talented individuals to take their ideas and prototypes even further through the joint support of the Smart City Office and Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct.

MMC for Finance, Counsellor Funzela Ngobeni, stated that “In the upcoming years, the City’s Smart City objectives will become evident as the City, through its core departments, begins to transition to more innovative and efficient means of engaging our citizens. The City has to implement new ways of engaging and solving problems for its ever-growing population and improving the efficiency and reliability of citizen interface with the City. While solutions may not always be technological, they will always be innovative and Smart.”

The Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival was founded in 2014 as a collaboration between the Tshimologong and the Wits School of Arts’ Digital Arts Department. The spirit of collaboration in celebration of all things digital continues as the City of Johannesburg’s Smart City Office recognises the important influence of African and South African culture on true innovation in the 4th Industrial Revolution, curtailed to local realities. The partnership is a natural fit as the 2019 festival has cast its central theme as ‘Own Our Force’ which invites digital makers in Africa to stake their claim on their talent, industry and creative economy.

Mr. Lawrence Boya, Head of the Smart City Office, noted that the City seeks to work with Tshimologong, and the talented ideas identified during the Fak’ugesi Festival. “The aim of the Smart City Office is to support five individuals who come up with solutions relevant to the Challenges faced by the City of Johannesburg, as a municipality or as a collective of citizens. We hope to see solutions that are not common in Europe, the US or even China, which address African or specific South Africa problems. Something unique to our Nation or City.” 

Tshimologong, in the youthful and dynamic heart of Johannesburg in Braamfontein, will once again host this year’s inspiring Festival line up and will also be the home of future digital solutions as proudly supported by the City of Johannesburg. The strategic partnership between the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival and theCity of Johannesburg’s Smart Cities Office will see the establishment of incubation support for prototypes and new developments from three exciting Fak’ugesi Festival initiatives including:

Blockchain Hack-a-thon for Creative Industries: In a collaboration between Fak’ugesi Festival, Animation SA and the City of Johannesburg, a brains trust and hack-a-thon will propose and porotype a new blockchain solutions to support South African culture and technology.

Cross-Sector Game Jam: A special focus at Fak’ugesi Festival 2019 that looks at how to bolster and support work across digital creatives sectors into gaming and gamification, music, user experience design, animation and screenwriting. This game-jam is set to change the way local digital industry works. The City of Johannesburg is proud to lend its support to this initiative as Joburg grows as a centre of creative work on the African continent.

SUPERPOWER! Johannesburg: working with UK-based Singaporean architect and technologist, Ling Tan, is a hands-on development workshop focusing on wearable technology and citizen data collection. Tan will be working with UJ Industrial Design students to explore how wearable technology can be used to help citizens and communities in need by collecting data about their environments and quality of life to share with government institutions and research organisations like the Gauteng City Region Observatory.

Over and above these three key initiatives, the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival will also host a series of special exhibitions that speak to the concerns of the Smart City. The first is a poster exhibition by UJ Multimedia students that address speculative design for African Smart Cities, the second is a series of four films by acclaimed young South Africa artists Franois Knotze on the effects of eWaste on cultures and societies in Africa.